Several years ago, Josh Schott started a weekly feature on the Country Perspective blog that asked a simple question: Based on Billboard’s country airplay charts, just how good (or bad) is country radio at this very moment? In the spirit of the original feature, I decided to try my hand at evaluating the state of the radio myself.
The methodology is as follows: Each song that appears is assigned a score based on its review score. 0/10 songs get the minimum score (-5), 10/10 songs get the maximum (+5), and so on. The result (which can range from +250 to -250) gives you an idea of where things stand on the radio.
This week’s numbers are from the latest version of Country Aircheck, but I’m going to link to their archives since I never remember to update this from week to week. Without further ado, let’s crunch some numbers!
Best Song: “I’m Not For Everyone,” 8/10
Worst Song: “To Be Loved By You,” 3/10
- Eric Church, “Hell Of A View” (recurrent)
- Dylan Scott, “Nobody” (down from #4 to #8)
In Real Trouble:
- Keith Urban and Pink, “One Too Many” (down from #11 to #12, gained only fifty-one spins and lost points)
- HARDY, “Give Heaven Some Hell” (down from #37 to #38, lost its bullet)
- Lauren Alaina and Jon Pardi, “Getting Over Him” (down from #43 to #44, gained only twenty-eight spins and 126 points)
- Caitlyn Smith ft. Old Dominion, “I Can’t” (holds at #45, but gained only twenty-three spins and forty-two points)
- Riley Green, “If It Wasn’t For Trucks” (holds at #46, but lost its bullet)
- Clay Walker, “Need A Bar Sometimes” (holds at #47, but bullet-less for a second consecutive week)
- Chris Bandi, “Would Have Loved Her” (up from #50 to #49, but gained only twenty-four spins and eighty-six points)
In Some Trouble:
- Basically, if you were below Ballerini at #42, you had a rough week.
In No Trouble At All:
- Cole Swindell, “Single Saturday Night” (up from #8 to #4)
- Luke Combs, “Forever After All” (holds #1 for a second week, leading to calls to have Combs mediate the Biden/Putin summit)
Bubbling Under 50:
- Chris Lane, “Fill Them Boots” (4/10)
- Niko Moon, “No Sad Songs”
- Heath Sanders, “Old School’s In”
- Nate Barnes, “You Ain’t Pretty”
On The Way:
- Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
- Gabby Barrett, “Footprints On The Moon”
- Brantley Gilbert ft. Toby Keith & HARDY, “The Worst Country Song Of All Time” (doesn’t HARDY already have this title with “REDNECKER”?)
Overall Thoughts: As expected, spins were at a premium this week with Thanos holding court at #1 and yet another massive debut hitting the charts (the surprise was that the debut was not Nelly/FGL or King/Lambert, but an unexpected drop from the Zac Brown Band), so the key was survival this week was prioritizing quality over quantity: A number of songs were not able to earn triple-digit spin gains, but still posted respectable point gains because they got the spins that mattered. The big questions this week:
- Has “Forever After All” denied some songs the #1 position, or merely delayed them? Bentley and Young/Brown had large but not outlandish gains last week, and Thanos is closing to peaking on the daily Mediabase charts, so I think the tracks at #2 and #3 still have another push in them. There’s still a chance everyone will share the top spot, albeit a week or two late.
- Is “One Too Many” past its sell-by date? Urban and Pink’s single posted terrible numbers for a second week in a row, and now stick out like a sore thumb in the top half of the charts (everyone else managed to earn at least 300 points, even “Undivided”). Given that the song has already topped the country charts in both Australia and Canada, might Capitol decide they’re satisfied and pull the plug?
- After all my predictions of doom and gloom, the Pulse has managed to defy gravity for a few weeks. Can it last? With “Fill Them Boots,” “No Sad Songs,” and “Old School’s In” on the horizon, my prediction is “not really,” but there ‘s enough of a buffer now where the Pulse might manage to avoid going negative. Maybe.
As the capacity crowd and massive beer cup snake at Wrigley Field demonstrated over the weekend, the coronavirus continues to recede in the U.S., with new daily case and death averages falling to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic (the overall death count has now reached 600,000). Vaccination totals are climbing, restrictions are being lifted, and life seems to be generally going back to normal (in my case, this means avoiding the outside world voluntarily rather than by order of the governor). Is it time to declare victory and finally revert these posts to the ‘Current Pulse’ title we last saw back on March 10th of 2020?
The answer is a resounding “no,” for a couple of reasons:
- For all the good news on the vaccine front, it’s important to note that we’ve still only vaccinated about 55% of the adult population and 44% of the overall population here in America. That’s a lot of people who still need their shots, and until we push those numbers closer to the ‘herd immunity’ threshold (“at least 80 percent,” according to a NYT article from last month), the virus is still more than capable of surging on us.
- Building beer cup snakes may be a low-risk activity for vaccinated individuals, but the virus is still a very real problem for unvaccinated folks. Of the hospitalizations we’re still seeing, nearly all of them are folks who have not yet gotten the vaccine, and the Washington Post reports that “infections…are rising in many places people have not [been vaccinated].” If you needed another reason to get the vaccine, this is it.
- Coronavirus variants, particularly the Delta one, remain a source of concern. The Delta variant is spreading so rapidly in the UK that “Prime Minister Boris Johnson postponed the nation’s planned reopening for an extra four weeks,” and it’s expected to be the dominant variant in the U.S. soon. Such a variant could reverse our hard-earned progress quickly, so we need to remain on our guard.
- America’s vaccination campaign has done relatively well, but the rollout in the rest of the world has been slow: Only about 21% of people worldwide have received even one vaccine dose, and “only 0.8% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.” A coronavirus infection is a threat to everyone no matter where it occurs, so we need to step up our efforts to increase global vaccination numbers (which is why I was happy to see the G7 nations promise one billion vaccine doses to poorer nations).
Ultimately, the pandemic remains a pandemic, and so we should continue to treat it like one. I implore folks who have not yet been vaccinated to receive the shot at their earliest opportunity, and continue wearing your mask and keeping your distance until you’re fully vaccinated. I also call on local, state, and national leaders to ensure that everyone has easy access to these vaccines. For all our efforts, our current success against the coronavirus remains potentially fragile, so let’s all keep doing our part to make sure this progress continues.